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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bill Aims to Move Up Duma Polls

Worried that the Communists might steal this December's State Duma elections by default, pro-Kremlin centrists and the liberal Union of Rights Forces faction have joined forces with a proposal to move the vote up a week to keep it from falling on a long holiday weekend.

Under federal law, Duma elections must be held on the second Sunday of the month that the duties of the incumbent chamber expire. This year, the vote falls on Sunday, Dec. 14, the third day of the long Constitution Day weekend.

Many Russians traditionally take advantage of long holiday weekends to leave the city or just stay at home -- meaning a lot of the voters who might pick the centrists or the Union of Rights Forces, or SPS, would ignore the elections, said Andrei Ryabov, political analyst with the Moscow Carnegie Center.

The Communists' mostly elderly supporters, however, are more disciplined and conscientious, and they would still show up in large numbers at polling stations.

"Low voter turnout is a major trump card of the Communists," Ryabov said.

The Unity and Fatherland-All Russia factions and SPS introduced in the Duma on Thursday a bill to shift the vote back to Dec. 7.

"We are proposing that the election day be changed to make it easier for voters to make it to the polling stations," deputy SPS head Boris Nadezhdin said in a telephone interview Friday.

"Of course, it is being done for the typical Russian voter, not the Communist voter," he said.

Nadezhdin said the bill should sail through the Duma when it comes up for a vote on June 6.

Viktor Peshkov, the Communist Party's official in charge of the upcoming election campaign, said his party would vote against the proposed change.

He said he believed the proposal came directly from the presidential administration and that it was worried the pro-Kremlin factions might not fare well in the vote.

"Laws exist to be followed rather than amended for a certain occasion," Peshkov said.